Gear and Gadgets: Stitch Up a Memory

by Lynda Angelastro

Looking for new ways to translate your digital skills and stash into memory-making keepsakes? Why not try sewing heirloom quilts, clothes toys or accessories from fabric featuring a design you've created yourself? Learn more about custom textiles and see how you can win a length of your very own fabric. 


materials swirl, bird from “Sunny Days” kit by Natalie Bird + Lainie Day font + Photoshop Elements (Adobe)

Most of the graphic content--photos, papers, elements and more--you have stored on your computer can take on new life as fabric.

Incorporate memory keeping by designing patterns made from photos of treasured childhood or historic family objects, favorite places or baby pictures. Pattie Knox’s article Pixels to Pencil from the February/March 2009 issue of Digital Scrapbooking shows a wonderful way to turn photos into simple line drawings that translate well to fabric. Other ideas for heritage fabric include scanned letters or using your favorite digital pages as quilt blocks. offers small-order custom fabrics especially for crafters. Buy one or more yards at $18 each or an 8-inch square for $5.

Use your digital scrapbooking application to design your custom fabric. Files can be uploaded as JPEGs, PNGs or TIFs. The LAB Color mode, available in Photoshop and some other professional-level software, produces the best match for Spoonflower’s process. Switch to the LAB Color format by selecting Image > Mode > LAB Color.You'll also want to make sure that the 8 Bits/Channel selection is checked.


If you’re using an application (such as Photoshop Elements) that does not support LAB Color, you may experience some color shift, especially in the red and dark values. Ordering an 8 x 8 swatch before having your final yardage made is a good investment.


Start an account at Spoonflower and upload your design motifs. Selections on the site allow you to see the stand-alone design or choose it repeated or tiled in several variations.


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